26 December 2013

[design] When Is A UPC Barcode More Than A UPC Barcode?

When I was but a neat thing, MAD Magazine was a hold-out. Held out against putting ads in. Held out on getting any class at all (and we loved them for that). And, in the day of the multiplying UPC symbol, held out against putting that on the cover, until the April 1978 edition (which actually came out in February, I think. MAD loved putting the cover-date two-or-three months ahead of the actual month), which, in a fit of EC-style rage, looked like this:

Well, it didn't, as history will show, and if history won't show, we'll say shut up, history. I'm writing this article, not you. It did provide for a long string of sarcastic jokes at the UPC symbol's expense (mine was a callout that proclaimed it the World's first computer-written joke), so at least MAD got that out of the deal.

Today, the UPC symbol has made its home in commerce; it, and similar barcodes, are pretty much everywhere. Their utility cannot be denied. Still, designers design around it, put it in a corner which gets pretty much ignored but for the scanning beam of Chad Vader's new, more powerful laaazer checkout system. But it need not be …

The scanner will scan the barcodes if they are correctly printed, but like a lacklustre gem, the proper setting can make all the difference:

Nifty! I don't know about anybody else, but I'm down.

More coolness from Benjamin Starr at Visual News here: http://www.visualnews.com/2013/12/23/design-around-lines-barcodes-dont-boring/. Read carefully within the text for more nice links, all of which I tried and all of which are distracting in the good way.

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